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KPBS Midday Edition

Judge Who Advocated 'Birther' Movement Under Investigation

Gary Kreep was elected to the San Diego Superior Court bench in the June 2012 primary election.
KPBS
Gary Kreep was elected to the San Diego Superior Court bench in the June 2012 primary election.

Judge Who Advocated 'Birther' Movement Under Investigation
Judge Who Advocated 'Birther' Movement Under Investigation GUEST:Dave Maass, former staff writer, San Diego CityBeat

As you try to decide on how ballet candidates this November you might recall the story of Gary Kreep. Back in 2012 he was running for a judgeship. The race tickles some voters simply because of the names, but not much was known about either. After Gary Kreep one we learn more about him and now he is being asked to answer allegations of judicial ethics violations. Joining me is the former staff writer of San Diego city beat you are reporting -- Your reporting first pointed out some of the political activities of Gary Kreep. During the lead up to the election we had gone through some of his statements that he had made and videos that he recorded and we found that he was very prolific in the birth of . He has filed lawsuits around the country challenging Obama's birth certificate. Dion that he had also been above -- Involved in a lot of native groups. He has circulated a lot of materials related to radical Islam and to conspiracy theories around Hillary Clinton and a lot of other issues related to LGBT rights. He had represented a father in a custody dispute with an ex-wife that he had characterized as a communist and that therefore made her not an appropriate parent. There was a long list of things he had been involved with the raised serious questions for the values of San Diego. In your piece you compare some of the things he Fanta things Donald Trump has said. Can you tell us about the similarities? That was one of the fun things, looking back at Gary Kreep and the current election I realize there were so many parallels. Both were leaders of the birther movement in their own ways. They had both use anti- immigrant sentiment to drum up support for their causes and in a lot of ways that were those met with contributions to their organizations. They both seem to really dislike Hillary Clinton and spread some theories about her. The main difference is that Gary Kreep was not famous and did not have name recognition . Now, Gary Kreep has to respond on 11 alleged violations of the code of judicial ethics. What is the nature? They span a wide range of behaviors. The first series relate to his work on political campaigns and his own political campaign. For example, when you run for judicial office you need to resign your leadership membership and political action committees. He told us at the time he had resigned them from the moment he file, that turned out to not be true. There were also issues where he has circulated emails advocating against Obama's reelection in 2012 while he was a candidate. There other things on the list and a lot of it relates to behaviors towards both defendants and lawyers who came before his court. They were usually women, often inappropriate comments about their looks, in particular with lawyers from communities of colors, he would make remarks about their Mexican accents. In one case an African-American woman who he compared to an African-American conservative activist that he apparently had a crush on. Is an unusual for judges to go through this type of hearing? It is. It tends not to get this far. There are judges who are brought up. But it doesn't happen that often. It happens because there are so many judges in the state of California, but this is relatively rare for the commission to take this kind of action. What are the possible outcomes if he has violated judicial ethics? He could face admonishment, sensor, or removal from the bench. After reporting on this for so long what is your take away on the story? I can think of a couple that perhaps voters and the media should research more or maybe we should not elect judges, maybe they should be appointed. >> Not just this race itself, I have looked at a lot of judge races. The fact that they are elected and buys a lot of ethical problems. There was the time where the city attorney had been fun raising directly for judges. That raises concerns about how fairly the defendants in those cases may be treated the judges who have received money or bundle contributions. A lot of it with Gary Kreep reflects on the political system as a whole. PS long been involved in political dirty tricks we noticed throughout our research that a lot of his political committees had this crazy network who were hard to track when money was being transferred. In a lot of cases it would end up in his pocket either through goes committees paying rent for his office or him providing legal services or consulting services. It was unclear if the money was going to anything other than sending out more materials requesting donations. Dave Moffat article is call the comeuppance of Gary Kreep. Inc. you. Think you. We contacted but did not receive comment from the law office representing judge Gary Kreep in time for our show.

A San Diego judge who was an advocate of the debunked "birther" movement is under investigation for his behavior during his judicial campaign and on the bench.

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On Oct. 14, the state Commission on Judicial Performance instituted formal proceedings into the allegations against San Diego Superior Court Judge Gary Kreep, who is accused of violating judicial ethics when he sent fundraising letters during his candidacy for judicial office in 2012 challenging President Barack Obama's citizenship.

Kreep, who hears civil cases, is also accused of "lack of proper courtroom decorum" for his comments to a Mexican-American public defender in 2013, saying "I wasn't planning on having you deported," according to a document released by the commission.

The document also said Kreep occasionally gave lawyers nicknames including "Bunhead," ''Dimples" and "Shorty," and commented on their physical appearances. The conservative legal advocate was also accused of using crude language on the bench and making racially insensitive remarks to defendants and attorneys.

Kreep's lawyer did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the San Diego Superior Court said it does not comment on pending cases.

Evidence in the case will be presented at a hearing before the commission makes a decision. If the allegations are upheld, punishment can range from privately disciplining the judge to removing him from office.

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Last year, the Fair Political Practices Commission said Kreep agreed to pay a $6,000 fine for financial irregularities in his2012 campaign.

On Midday Edition Thursday, we talk to former San Diego CityBeat staff writer Dave Maass about his reporting on Kreep.

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